Law gives voters choice selecting judges

Did you know that 90 percent of Minnesota judges run for election unopposed? This gives voters a choice only 10 percent of the time. When a judge is unopposed, it only takes one vote to get re-elected. The Impartial Justice Act would institute retention elections that give voters the ability to hold judges accountable 100 percent of the time. In other words, voters will be able to vote against an incumbent who is running unopposed.

The Impartial Justice Act provides three critical reforms to empower voters and restore the accountability of Minnesota’s courts. It will strengthen our judicial system by expanding voters’ power through retention elections, providing information through public performance evaluations and ensure quality on the bench through merit selection. In addition, it will institute a performance evaluation system, with results open to the public, which would give much-needed information about how judges perform to voters.

The Impartial Justice Act will mandate merit selection that will require all candidates and incumbents to be interviewed by lawyers and citizens. The results of the interviews will be made public. The Impartial Justice Act doubles down on this system by limiting the governor’s power to appoint judges to choosing from a list of those who have been interviewed. Merit selection ensures the judges qualified by ability, not politics, will be in our courtrooms.

Looming powerful political forces pose a significant threat to voters who lack a meaningful voice. Only the Impartial Justice Act empowers voters while ensuring that Minnesota has competent judges. If you want to improve our courts, I encourage you to urge your legislators to make the Impartial Justice Act a top priority.

Robert Stevenson